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Why Segun Sowunmi wants to take over as next PDP national chairman

The PDP chairmanship aspirant also discussed his relationship with some APC stalwarts and how he plans to win northern support.

Segun Sowunmi [Facebook]

Segun Sowunmi, a former Ogun State governorship aspirant, spoke to Pulse Nigeria to discuss his ambition to drive that reform as the party's next national chairman.

In this exclusive interview, Sowunmi disclosed his agenda, Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s future.

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Well, for almost a year now, I’ve been preoccupied with the need for the political party, especially the PDP, to be reformed.

My thoughts on that are founded on the fact that the challenge of democracy is how do you even ensure the platform that’s going to throw people up for positions understands democracy and is working itself. It should be formed in such a way that it can solve today's challenges and even the ones that are coming in the future.

How do you manage to keep a lot of interest in the same platform so that no one runs away with the structure and no one is completely left out? How do you ensure that the political party will obey the laws, rules, and regulations it created itself? How do you review your past activities given that whatever is wrong with the PDP is that it has lost three elections back-to-back at the national level?

So when you think that way, you kind of push the party hard, not that you’re fighting them; you’re just trying to inspire them, encourage them, and nudge them in all the directions that they need to go.

I’ve also been very vocal in the country. Initially, it was to inspire the lead government not to make certain mistakes, which, unfortunately, they eventually made. I then called them out so they would know the country was not well.

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But every time I look at Nigeria, I tell myself, "Oh God, you have really been kind to us regarding the development people are doing by themselves," not so much what the government has been doing for them but just watching them, seeing how they’re building and extending their businesses.

Some governors are beginning to take proper charge of the environment’s growth, so after all is said and done, we can say, "Thank you, Ebenezer, for all you’ve done. Please move us to the next level." That’s all I’ve been doing.

You’ve asked a fantastic question, which means you’ve been observing. Well, the thing is this, I don’t believe that a party’s only role is to win elections.

I think the objective of winning elections is equivalent to not winning elections in terms of policy. Still, I feel that there’s also a need for democracy to be balanced by the activities of a reformed opposition. I think the more the opposition reforms itself, the better its chances of winning, and even at that, the better its opportunity to inspire the ruling party.

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I believe that wherever you find yourself, you must work very hard to ensure you’re adding value. When a political party wins an election, it is responsible for running the government, paying salaries, running education, and managing political issues.

That doesn’t mean the opposition will be lazy, doing nothing, working towards improving the country, and not reforming themselves. I don’t believe that, so if the ruling party is working to stabilise the government, the opposition must be working to stabilise itself and review its laws, especially for a party like the PDP that has existed for 25 years.

I agree it has cost a lot of sacrifices when I look at where I come from, and my people, who you know, feel they have every right to think that they should be supported, especially those in the presidency in their zones.

We must show resilience. We have shown enough because I have been resilient for 25 years. I’ve never left the party because many people thought I’d go, but I feel like, okay, let them stabilise, let us watch. Is there a room for us here? Is there anything we can add to what they are doing? Are we able to improve?

I don’t believe you should get up and join another house when you have no role to play; you should not be afraid of being an opposition.

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I think even if you’re a very reflective person, being in opposition is also quite beautiful because at least your views can be better pushed without any fear of favours since you don’t have to deal with practically the everyday paying of salaries dealing with education you know you don’t have to deal with all these everyday issues, so you’re living in the concept of idea and in living in the concept of idea so many things can be done.

If you do it well, you’ll be happy, and you won’t have to carry the burden of paying the minimum wage and all these issues that the government people deal with.

We were in power for 16 years, so we don’t have to be overly angry because another party has been there for nine years. I think we could improve ourselves because we have a better opportunity even to prepare and become serious.

After all, I don’t believe that there’s any political party that will not reform itself, stay true to itself, check what happened to itself, avoid the issues of the past, or figure out how to increase commissions so that the challenges of yesterday will not be the challenges of tomorrow. I think the other parties will be more serious.

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First and foremost, the people in the North Central area are relying on the fact that the man who lost that seat via the court’s order is from their zone.

They’re relying on our constitution, which says that if that kind of thing happens before the expiration of that tenure, it must go back to that zone. That’s really what the constitution of our party says. So, to that extent, they’re not vying for the chairmanship. They’re vying to replace and complete the tenure of the past chairman.

I hold a different view that a political party cannot be stumbling on its own stone twice. I hold the view that because we’re not in power, this is a good time for us to have a comprehensive convention that will rewrite, repair, revalidate, and reorder our NWC and our executive in such a manner that we will become fit for purpose and ready to win that election.

In that regard, we are going to vote in the zone according to our interests, according to what is charismatic, reasonable, and sensible to our objectives of winning the election and working in the interests of our party.

The only zone that has not produced a chairman in our party is the South West zone. The second reason is that of all the zones in Nigeria, the only zone that PDP cannot say it’s zoning its presidency to is the South West because it would be foolery to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Yoruba man who is the candidate of the APC, and then go on to pick a South West man as a candidate to run for the presidency.

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So, in my own opinion, the South West ought to be set aside to be the national chairman.

How would you handle the North? There are always issues in the region, especially regarding power struggles.

Let me say this, number one: I think that the North is smart. They know that if we’re going to win the 2027 elections, the best place to look for their candidate is in the North because of their large numbers.

The North is smart enough to know that if we bring our presidential candidate to the South, the North will not follow us because it would then mean that the West is trying to keep power in the South for an extra eight years because if a Yoruba man says he wants to become president now, it means Bola Tinubu will do four years. Another tenure will be another four years and then contest for a second term, so the North will be pragmatic.

We give them a presidential candidate of the North that they can vote for and use their numbers behind him, and we see how it goes, or maybe the North can say, well, it’s safer we just let the West finish their eight years, and the power will automatically switch to the North.

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Planning a national convention with the intention of one candidate in mind is part of the problem of this party.

I think a national convention should be planned for you to have a healthy and robust and well ran party that is disciplined, that knows who its members are, where they are, and who they are, that understands what its responsibilities and roles are, that understands that every member of an organisation must be participating no matter how small, that understands that there are minimum expectations of loyalty and fidelity to a certain political party so that the party activities can review their sanctions, and if you don’t operate within the rules of the party, you can be expelled and told to step aside.

So when I said Atiku has the right to contest, all others have their rights to contest too. Even as a national chairman, what will be of topmost importance to me is that the PDP will make its decision based on signs, based on pragmatic equity, and based on what is practical and can make us win. If Atiku becomes the candidate, we thank God, and if Atiku is not the candidate we still have to thank God because at the end of the day, men are for seasons, institutions are for a lifetime, that’s the idea.

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Let us all let him get to his one year and then review him. We should all agree that President Bola Tinubu was not the president in the last eight years, and anyone who comes in, it’s when you enter that you’re going to see what to contend with.

Let’s say, for now, I get what he’s doing. I see where he’s going with the effort. I do not wish my opponent to fail; I want them to succeed. As a politician, I see the good in my rivals’ actions. If I see something good, I say it. If I see something bad, I say it.

Our objective is to see that our country can be better. I get the hardship in the country, but I thank God almighty for Nigerians and their resilience and the ability to manage themselves. We’re getting by and moving on, so let us continue to thank God.

But I want to tell Bola Ahmed Tinubu, please don’t deceive yourself. Nigerians are not happy with you because you cannot tell me that your idea of running the country is making life so hard for the people that it will take you a whole year.

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You’ve not made salary adjustments for the civil servants so that it can reform society; you’ve not done anything sensible and creative to make the Nigerian citizens know that you mean well for them.

All you’re telling them is to endure, whereas you and your family are enjoying yourselves; you’re running your Lagos agenda and pretending that it’s a Nigerian agenda. It’s too early, but when it’s time, we’ll talk about these issues on the ground.

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